Just below Victoria Falls, the Batoka Gorge follows the churning Zambezi River with towering walls of rock and presents one of the best places for white water rafting in Africa.
If you consider yourself even the least bit of an adrenaline junkie, it’s an activity you have to try.
The Zambezi is a Grade 5 river, meaning it’s extremely difficult, has long and violent rapids with big drops and pressure areas — almost half the rapids on the river are Grade 5, too.
Before you head out, it’s best to book in advance so you can read through the material and get prepared for your journey.
Prices for a full-day trip can run as low as US$125 during the winter months, but are often higher during the busier summer.
You can also get reduced prices if you book a package of activities including bungee jumping and kayaking.
Half-day trips are also available if you don’t have the time to dedicate to the journey.
Full-day trips cover around 24km and 20 rapids, while half-day trips encounter around 10.
Some outfitters even provide multi-day rafting trips up to 5 days.
The time of year you go determines the severity of the rapids, with more dramatic rapids between August and February.
Children under 15 generally aren’t allowed to white-water raft in the area, but it’s up to the management’s discretion based on the kids strength and experience.
After arranging your trip, you’ll usually be picked up from your hotel early in the morning and driven to a put-in point and given a quick lesson on safety skills (in case your boat flips).
Wetsuits are provided during colder months, along with helmets and life jackets year round.
There is often a designated kayaker in another boat that follows you along in case of emergency and sometimes records your video.
Once your settled in and cruising down the river, the guide will pause before each rapid and give you advice on how to navigate it.
Be sure to listen to your guide and paddle hard when he tells you to, even if you think the water is going to crash over your head and send you floating down the river.
If your boat does happen to flip (which is quite possible), just remain calm and follow the instructions.
Even if you do take in a little water, you’ll definitely have a cool story to tell people later.
For a first person account of rafting the Zambezi, see Epic Adrenaline Rush: Rafting The Zambezi Through Batoka Gorge.